Our son was diagnosed at 5 years with SM. He saw a psychologist for about 6 months, but made no progress. She then referred him to a psychiatrist (Zoloft) and we had some limited progress (few words after school to teacher, spoke to his best friend). He went off meds due to side effects. Today, he is a happy, straight A student, plays on basketball, baseball, and soccer teams. Loves to play with his buddies, but he does this all without talking! He thinks it is perfectly normal and acceptable not to use speech to communicate because he does perfectly well without it. Any time we use the “talk” word, he becomes extremely upset.


Thank you for emailing us. I’m sorry to hear that your son is struggling with SM, but I’m happy he’s doing so well otherwise. Did your doctor try any other meds besides Zoloft? Prozac is often helpful for kids with SM. I’m also wondering if the psychologist specialized in treating childhood anxiety disorders. A therapist who does can often help an SM child make progress in small steps.

I would also stay away from talking about talking. Instead, focus on helping him communicate. If you can figure out where he is, communicatively, you can develop strategies to help him progress in the tiniest of steps. If he can’t order when in a restaurant, for example, have him point to what he wants or whisper it to you. It’s important to get him involved instead of just answering for him, but you have to get him involved where he’s comfortable and move gradually to the next step.

Dr. Lynn Lunceford, Clinical Psychologist